Friday, December 1, 2017

A Trip to "The City of Gold"

It was such a privilege to be given the opportunity to travel to Dubai this year! The trip was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and something I will never forget. We were surrounded by different cultures and exposed to different ways of life the whole time we were on our trip. It was amazing to see the different architecture as well as the wonderful landmarks of the country. We traveled around the Palm Islands, rode to the top of the Burj Khalifa, and marched through the desert sand on camels. We even visited the souk and gold market on the Dubai Creek.

On our first day, we rode out to the desert reserve where we would go "dune bashing", riding over sand dunes in a car that has little air in its tires in order to create friction. On our way there, we rode past a number of mosques and open plots of land which eventually turned from dead grass to sand. As we got farther away from the excitement of the city, we got further into the desert and began seeing people on camels. The most interesting part came next when we saw a large "camel racing" stadium. We finally arrived at the desert reserve and began the dune bashing experience. Later we visited a "camp" where we rode camels and ate an authentic Emirate dinner. There, some of the native women gave us henna tattoos and the men served us coffee and dates.

The next morning we visited the Dubai Marina and rode a boat around the Palm Islands in the Arabian Gulf (we refer to it as the Persian Gulf.) There, we saw the Atlantis Hotel and the world's first seven-star hotel, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. We also saw the "Dubai Eye", which was still under construction and expected to be larger than the London Eye. While all of this was happening, we got to experience the beautiful cityscape as we drove further into the gulf and we saw the Jumeriah beach being enjoyed by tourists and locals. It was winter in the Emirates so there were a lot more visitors than usual. Aside from all of the buildings and recent renovations, we learned that the city had been there for only a number of around twenty years. Before then, there was just desert and no marina, cityscape, or Palm Islands. We also learned that the Sheikh of Dubai had contributed to most of the renovations and now-tourists-attractions in the area.

Later in the evening, we presented to a group of teachers, principals, and other people with careers in education. We shared with them the amazing things that we do in Mrs. Vicki's classroom every day and how all of it is valuable to us. After our presentation, we spoke with some of the educators that were in attendance and learned where they were from. Some of them were from places in Europe, such as London, and some of them were from the United Emirates. It was such a great experience to be able to speak with these people and learn the ways children are educated all over the world! That night we enjoyed another authentic meal only it was traditional Thai food. It wasn't uncommon to have many People from Asia living in the area, as we learned from our tour guide the next day, because the population of Dubai is mostly Asian and only a small percentage of the population is native to the Emirate. This was somewhat a surprise to us, yet it made sense because the Emirate of Dubai is very open to diversity.

On our last day, we toured the city. We saw pieces of "Old Dubai" as well as "New Dubai." We rode on the Palm Islands and beside the Atlantis Hotel. We also stopped at a local Mosque. Our guide explained that even though the Emirate's official religion is Islam, say that they don't discriminate other religions. He told us that there were also a large number of Churches and even some Hindu Temples. We learned that the government actually controls what is taught in the Mosques and that they appoint their Imams, or service leaders. Aside from the government controlling the Islam faith, Churches and Hindu temples are led by their own leaders and the government has no involvement in them. If you want to build a Church, you simply request a land grant from the government. They are also given cemeteries by the government and the right to advertise Church functions, however, it is prohibited by law that they distribute any religious literature, such as a Bible.

Since it was beautiful outside, we got to stop by Jumeirah Beach and we were able to walk down to the water. It was unbelievable to be at the beach in their “winter”, but I guess if the weather was like that during any month of the year, I would be at the beach too. Next, we rode down to the Dubai Creek and took a small boat to the souk and gold market on the other side. Our guide walked us through the whole market and showed us a store with the best souvenirs. There was saffron, frankincense, and other spices displayed outside the small stores. We also saw the World’s Largest Ring and some of the craziest pieces of gold. There were full breastplates of gold and diamond placed in windows of almost all of the gold stores. In their culture, when a woman is married, she wears all of her most expensive pieces of jewelry so that she will have them with her when she leaves. Our guide also shared with us that once a couple is married, the Sheik provides them with a house. It’s not surprising that wherever we went there were pictures of him hanging on the walls and the sides of buildings. Everyone loves him! The country is also cemented to being the best at everything which is why the next place we visited that Day was the Dubai Mall.

It is one of the largest malls in the world and it happens to be connected to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. It was amazing to see the whole city from the top of one building. You could see the beautiful lights of the city and by looking down you knew that they were a reminder of how far the Emirate had come in the short time that it had been able to innovate itself. It was so fun to explore a new world far away from home! I will always remember the amazing experience it was.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


 Our class trip to Dubai was truly a life-changing experience that I will never forget. Many lessons were learned by all of us. For example, I learned that 10 hour flights are as bad as they sound, and I start losing it around halfway through! On a more serious note, I learned that venturing out of my comfort zone (Very, very far) can ultimately pay off greatly.

 The first full day was lost to traveling. We arrived in Dubai on Monday morning after leaving Atlanta on Saturday. Later that day we got to experience a true Arabian dinner in the middle of the desert. After an afternoon of dune bashing, watching a falconry show, and riding very tall camels, I tried many different foods including falafel and lamb. Peyton and I even got beautiful Henna tattoos as well! I even impulsively decided to climb up a huge dune and slid down it on a snowboard. Not even halfway up the steep slope was I regretting it immensely, yet I persisted and eventually reached the top, breathless. The ride down was blissfully relaxing but over far too quickly, yet I would do it again. 

The next day, the group and I took a yellow boat water tour of the Isle of Palms and many other incredible structures, like the “Seven Star” hotel right on the coastline. After trying desperately to tame our unruly hair from the wind, we attended the Edutech conference in a huge ballroom. I filmed the panel while the other students talked about Miss Vicki‘s class and teaching habits that should be followed. Everyone, in my opinion, did really well, and many people loved the panel. We even received an invite to a school from one of the teachers that attended the conference, but unfortunately, we could not fit it into our busy schedule. 

On our final day in Dubai, we all got up early and quickly ate breakfast so we could start our full day of touring. First, we drove to the palm of Jumeirah and buried our toes in the sand on the beach there. Then we ate lunch and looked around one of the many marinas, or malls, in Dubai. After that, we all traveled back in time as we walked through a museum of ancient Middle Eastern life. There was even an exhibit that made visitors feel as if they were underwater, looking up at the people casting their nets hoping to catch fish. Later that evening the class got to experience one of the coolest parts of the trip, which was seeing Dubai glow in the night from the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. I could see every vein of the city glowing from beneath me through the windows. there is a scene in one of my favorite movies called Ferris Bueller‘s Day Off where the students press their heads against the windows of the Empire State building and look down at the ground below. I copied this idea and saw the streets flowing with traffic below. That is one sight I will never forget. After exiting the Burj Khalifa, we made it just in time for a huge and brilliant fountain show directly outside of the monument. The water sprayed higher than any other, and I think we were all surprised that none of us ended up soaked. 

On the plane rides back, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief that we were heading home, but it was truly bittersweet. I know I’ll miss Dubai with all its luxuries and gorgeous sights, but I’m so glad I went on this once-in-a-lifetime trip. 

Thank you to the adults and students that made this a safe and fun trip, and thank you to Mrs. Vicki for giving us this incredible opportunity. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Goodbye Dubai

I am sad to leave, but at least we all got some cool souvenirs. The educational conference was awesome. In fact, our speakers did so good that the whole group was invited to go and tour a school there, but we did not get to go because we did not have clearance. We had a fun, cool, and great group from Westwood Schools speak such as: Brent Johnson, Brantley Shiver, Spence Cranford, Peyton Worsham, Levi Warren, Jonte Harris, and the person that made all of the trip possible, Mrs. Vicki Davis. We also cannot forget our filmer, Perry Fears. I am very proud of our speakers, filmers, and parents for never saying no but instead went and tried new, interesting, and cool things such as: a desert Barbecue, dune bashing, sandboarding (especially Brantley Shiver), riding on boats for tours, and climbing to the top of the Burj Khalifa, and going to the Dubai Mall. The trip was very educational and we always learned cool new things, such as: the Burj Khalifa was inspired by the spider lily, and I also learned that the Burj Khalifa will only be the tallest building in the world for about a year, because China is building one taller, but Dubai is already working on one taller than China’s tower and naming it the Burj Dubai. I noticed something odd about the buildings there, if you go look at the buildings closely and you will notice that no building has a normal shape. They are built in the forms of all different shapes such as: pyramids, prisms, and a lot of them have domes on top of them or have something protruding from them. The architecture there also has very many different influences of different countries such as: Italy, America, Rome, and Greece that is put into the way it looks, or how it was built. I have also learned that also being the world’s richest city, everything there cost a lot of money and it is hard to get a good deal there on anything you try to buy. One of the interesting things in Dubai is that they believe in polygamy, which means the men can marry up to four women. One of the amazing things about Dubai and the people there is the productivity rate, and work ethic, because where it would take 5 years to build a building here in America, it only takes them a little over a year. The leader of Dubai is called a Sheik, which means the son of, and his name is Sheik Mohammed, so his name in English means” the son of Mohammed” I have also learned that everything in Dubai has to have “The World’s Biggest Everything”, so if you order a small order of fries they fill up a whole box with fries. There are a lot of exotic cars in Dubai, but after a day there you realize what the normal cars are. The normal cars consist of: Range Rovers, Hyundai, Audis, and Porsches.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Heading to Dubai: New Adventures for the Wildcats

Tomorrow, seven students, four parents and I will be heading to Dubai to present at the Edutech Middle East Conference. We'll be presenting and learning but we'll also be learning about the culture, foods and more. We're ready to go

Monday, March 14, 2011

Post Reflection : Was Beijing fun or what ?

China being a foreign country and all i had not idea what to expect ,but there was no let down for us south Georgians. Beijing was the coolest place I think I've ever been to. Even though we were their tour, they were all very welcoming. My favorite places would have to be the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, and the acrobatic show. The Great wall was fun and exhilarating. It's just the fact that it's the seventh wonder of the world, but the seventh wonder of the world did have a huge slide all the way down the mountain. All I have to say is cocktail. It is the game they play that is similar to hacky sack. We first encountered this game in the Temple of Heaven. The people in the park were absolutely nice people and loved us Americans. Then there was the acrobatic show. I was so scared. They had no fear of falling three stories with no safety line. Beijing was just the experience of a lifetime and I want to go back again someday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Going to Beijing, China, was the trip of a lifetime for me. I learned many things while I was in China. The main thing that I learned about was chinese culture. We got to see what many people do during their everyday life in China. We got to see many cool sites while we were in China. My favorite was the Temple of heaven and the tea ceremony. At the Temple of Heaven there were old people playing this game that is like hackie sack. At the tea ceremony we got to try five different types of tea. My favorite was called the "Black Dragon" tea. We got to eat what they eat, see what they see, and see where some of the children go to school at. Their schools are very different than ours are too. They offer a wider variety of sports for their kids to play including badminton, soccer, and rugby. They also offer different classes like orchestra and they have a class for running a video scoreboard like the one that is at the Atlanta Braves's stadium.
At the conference I met people from all around the world! There were kids from Oman, Europe, India, China, Korea, and many other places. I learned about all of their different cultures. I also learned how to collaborate with these people when we were trying to make our ideas for the next flatclassroom project. In my group I had a girl from India, two girls from China, and a boy from China. The main idea that we focused on was child labor. We came together and thought a good way to stop child labro was to publicly embarass the companies that were using child labor.
I would like to thank our school for letting us go. I would also like to thank Mrs. Vicki. She booked all of our tours and helped us get over and get back alive. She was one of the two women that started the flatclassroom project. I do not think that any of this would be possible without her.

post china reflection

I had an amazing time in Beijing. It was truly a once in a lifetime trip that was both awe inspiring and eye opening. China's educational system is employing some cutting edge educational techniques. While in China, I had the opportunity to tour WAB(Western Academy of Beijing) and it is truly one of the nicest and coolest places I have ever had the privilege of visiting. The 5th graders there who were operating the million dollar scoreboard system probably have more technological knowledge than me. The elementary school there is extremely advanced. I looked over a kids shoulder in a 2nd grade and he was reading a 600 page Harry Potter book that I read in the 6th grade. The High school looked like some of the best colleges in the United States. On top of all the high tech aids they even had a lazy river going through the lobby with fish in cool is that?
The Beijing city tour was beyond awesome. China has so much to offer in terms of places to visit and scenery. Among the places I visited were the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs, the Llama Temple, and saw the Kung Foo show. Among all the places I visited though, by far my favorite was the Temple of Heaven. As our tour guide Vincent said "its a Chinese Disney Land". But, there were no roller coasters in the Temple, nor any of the young screaming children. the temple is filled mostly with retirees who are dancing, playing cocktail(a game similar to hackysack), and participating in other activities. The Temple is truly a happy place.
At the conference itself, I was paired with a brilliant team. We came up with an idea of a mass student exchange program. We believed that by sending students to foreign countries we might gibe students a unique experience in a foreign countries that some businesses can find useful. in addition to the experience gained in the actual visit to these foreign countries, students could help end stereotypes that are springing up in today's society.
I would like to thank my teacher Mrs. Vicki for giving me the opertunity to go to this confrence. I would like also like to think Mrs. Julie Lindsay and BISS for hosting this confrence.